‘Social’ landlords IMPOSE poverty on the social tenant

UCAPA sees social (sic) landlords impose greater poverty on a greater number of tenants and at a greater speed and hence the alternate title of this being Hey Landlord why UCAPA the tenants knees? 

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Council and Housing Association landlords love Universal Credit’s Alternative Payment Arrangement (UCAPA) as it sees them wiping out tenant arrears debts up to six times quicker than the legacy system and six times more arrears paid off than a court would allow.

A tenant taken to court over arrears sees that court invariably issue a suspended possession order on two conditions of (a) pay the ongoing rent in full, and (b) a sum of £16 per month off the arrears and this £16 per month is what a court assess as the maximum the tenant on benefit can afford to pay.

Yet UCAPA sees the landlord not have to go to court and instead:

  • Takes £99 per month off the benefit household of a couple at source and gives directly to the landlord.  This is 6 times what the court says they can afford and £1000 more per year from the tenant than a court says
  • For a single person or lone parent household the at source deduction is £63 per month which is 4 times more than a court would award and £570 more per year taken from their social security benefit under Universal Credit

The bean counters who run these so-called social landlords are rubbing their hands with glee at each new roll out of Universal Credit! The more Universal Credit in place the lower landlord arrears become in this bugger the social tenant policy.

So much for the claimed social purpose and social ethos of these so-called social landlords who are – by design and action – taking the food out of the mouths of children already on or below the poverty line.

Recently I met a Labour councillor who is on the board of two housing associations who, as is their want, told me just how endemic his left-wing and true socialist beliefs were … yet then proceeded to bemoan the fact that still his housing associations have just over half all Universal Credit tenants getting the rent paid to them and not to the landlord.

That means these so-called social landlords have managed to get UCAPAs on almost half of UC tenants and thus they are taking the 4 – 6 times more off them in arrears payments than a court would allow!

An avowed socialist scrutinising the avowed social purpose HA landlords anyone!!??

I read this morning a very long article in Inside Housing about Universal Credit and how ideological and offensive and dangerous it is.  It is without doubt, yet this article of over 2300 words compared to the usual 750 word that covers many UC aspects fails to mention the UCAPA and the role that gangster social (sic) landlords play in it!  The social (sic) landlord propaganda machine is in full flow as per usual!

A landlord taking between £570 and £1000 more per year off a benefit tenant household than a court would allow and the law says is affordable is that landlord kneecapping the tenant financially.

SOCIAL (sic, sic, sic) landlords are driving the social tenants to the foodbank and to the loan shark by taking £1000 more per year from their subsistence level social security benefits than a court would permit.

These landlords protest vehemently when anyone dares to challenge their claims to have social purpose yet the facts and their actions show they operate a modern-day feudal landlord system as this UCAPA shows as does the fact they evict as many tenants as the bogey man private landlord as again the facts show and as long as Shelter and the Guardian and all the rest miss this elephant in the room by focusing exclusively on the nasty private landlord, these feudal landlords that we mistakenly label social landlords get away with it!

As I said and is fact about the UK rented housing market and the elephant in the room of staggeringly high social (sic) landlord eviction levels:

• UK has 53% private properties and 47% socially rented ones.

• UK evictions show 54% private to 46% social housing evictions.

That lack of awareness has to change as quite frankly a shitstorm is coming with UCAPA and its consequences.  Luckily we only have about 4% of social tenants on UC yet when this increases 25 times in the full UC roll out we will see homelessness and poverty rocket and for which I say cynically yet validly, the likes of the JRF will issue a lengthy report about years after this post claiming to be both exclusive and authoritative.

Rent Arrears?

20 years ago I headed up a project looking at arrears systems for a large housing association at a time when new Housing Benefit claims were taking over 100 days to be in payment and renewal claims typically taking 60 days.  This new system by definition had to look at what arrears actually are and not just technical arrears caused by HB delays which still to this day sees landlord IT systems spew out arrears letters on such technicalities.

That same investigation into what arrears are also found that around 20% of social tenants have credit balances on their accounts.  Yet we never hear about the 1 in 5 tenants who have overpaid and landlords continue to reap interest upon such monies!

Only about 2% of tenants with arrears are to coin a well-used phrase ‘taking the piss’ when it comes to paying rent.  Data has to be processed correctly to become meaningful and not just repeated like mantra as the same IH article did today:

The experience of other areas with full UC is equally troubling. A survey of councils and ALMOs by the National Federation of ALMOs (NFA) and the Association of Retained Council Housing (ARCH) found in July that 73% of tenants were in arrears, owing an average of £772.21, up from £611.73 a year earlier. This is far higher than the 31% of tenants in arrears under the housing benefit system.

Yes around 31% of tenants under the majority legacy system of housing benefit are in arrears but every social housing tenancy requires rent in advance and every housing benefit payment is paid in arrears.  That is the nature of the beast and with some 3.25 million social tenants in receipt of HB from some 4.3 million tenancies we see HB being claimed in 3 in every 4 social housing tenancies.

As the HB legacy system creates such ‘technical’ arrears this creates a huge problem with UCAPA.  The UCAPA process of landlords getting 4 – 6 times more in arrears than a court allows flows ONLY from the landlord.

The (feudal) landlord informs UC that a tenant has arrears of more than 8 weeks which both the HB system and the minimum 6 week wait for UC payments to flow creates systemically.  The income officers at landlords inform UC who then (a) pay the old HB direct to the landlord, and (b) also pay the £63 or £99 arrears payment to the landlord.

The first the tenant knows of this is when the additional £63 or £99 per month has been deducted at source and their monthly UC payment is £63 – £99 less than they anticipated.

This UCAPA system has the same principle as the bedroom tax that the social landlord is to be believed without question and the tenant is guilty and then has to prove their innocence!

The social landlord has been granted preferential status by the DWP and the tenant can do little about it.  Under the court system the judges interrogate the claimed arrears position before they make a decision and universally they ask whether the arrears are ‘technical’ ones due to waiting for HB to come onstream (or back onstream as HB departments still cease HB payments if a tenant has their JSA sanctioned and upon which guidance was first issued in early 2010 to say they must not do this!) or the local HB department has made a mistake – and note the vast majority of ‘welfare’ fraud and error data reveals error and not from the claimant but made by decision makers such as DWP and HB departments!

Yet the UCAPA system denies any such due process as the DWP simply believe the word of the landlord and the claimant (the tenant) has no say in the matter whatsoever.

When I posted about this nefarious UCAPA the other day I stated – correctly – that the National Housing Federation, the umbrella group for 1500+ housing associations lobbied hard for this UCAPA process and the above explains why!!

The response to that UCAPA post from social landlords has been the expected one in (a) we didnt design the system its all UC’s fault blah, blah and (b) we are owed this money how dare you say we can’t get it back, blah, blah, blah.  The response from the legal social media cohort is how can this circumvention of what is legally just be allowed in the first place.

Yet the REAL issue is the impacts on social tenants and the undoubted poverty this is creating and will increase 25-fold when UC is fully rolled out.  The media focuses on the JAMs – the just about managing – and they would be thrown into poverty by taking these £63 – £99 per month deductions from so how the hell are social tenants and their children going to be affected?!  The consequence of which are there for all to see and don’t need any comment.

Social tenants are being shafted once again by social landlords and once again shhhh don’t tell anyone and the bullshit mantra of ‘social’ landlords the we have social purpose bullshit prevails because nobody gives a flying f*ck about social tenants especially the feodaric landlords they have!

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PS:  My sincerest and deepest apologies for associating one of the greatest films ever made with these feudal landlords who have the temerity to proffer social purpose!

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Social landlords – Thieving bar stewards!

Did you know a social landlord will take off you over SIX TIMES what a court would award for arrears?

Welcome to the UCAPA – the Universal Credit Alternative Payment Arrangement that sees a social landlord claim £99.87 per week from the tenant on benefit in arrears by default when a court would limit that arrears payment to £16.30 per calendar month.

The social (sic) landlord is nothing more than a thief with total disdain for the courts!

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The tenant has no say in the matter either and Universal Credit simply choose to believe the social (sic) landlord when he says the tenant is 8 weeks or more in arrears.

Yet as UC takes at least 6 weeks to arrive and all weekly social housing tenancies require 1 week in advance that alone is 7 weeks (!!) and this is becoming all too familiar an arrangement.

For the social tenant on a monthly tenancy then the minimum 6 weeks UC payment coupled with 1 month (4.34 weeks) in advance and you are well over this 8 week period for the APA to be put into place immediately.

The tenant can – if they are prepared to wait an hour on hold to UC listening to Vivaldi -argue hardship and Universal Credit may halve this payment to £49.93 per month – yet only if the UC member of staff knows the regulations and can get a supervisor to manually override the UC system that automatically defaults of 20% of the standard UC allowance and changes it to 10%. Oh and if the tenant has credit on their mobile phone too as calls to UC are chargeable!

How can social (sic) landlords justify a system that sees them take £63.56 per month off a single person or lone parent when a court would only award £16.30 per month?

How can social (sic) landlords justify taking £99.87 per month off a couple when a court would typically only take the same £16.30 or rarely £24.97 per month to be taken?

The reason a court only allows £16.30 per month to be deducted for arrears is because the courts have long decided that amount – which broadly equates to 5% of the base social security benefit of Income Support, JSA or ESA – is all that such a tenant can afford due to their subsistence level income.

Yet under Universal Credit the system defaults to 20% and four times this base benefit (called standard allowance) amount can be deducted and note up to a total of 40% of Universal Credit’s standard allowance can be deducted with other deductions too.

DO NOT for one second believe this is happenstance as the National Housing Federation – the NHF and lobby for housing associations – lobbied the Tory government hard over this Alternative Payment Arrangement or APA and the Tories were more than happy to agree to it!

It means a higher percentage of rent is collected by social (sic) landlords which then sees the Tories say oh the bedroom tax and benefit cap and all of the other cuts to social tenant housing benefit can’t be that bad!!

This same collusion is evident in the misnamed “affordable (sic) rent” which sees these landlords charge tenants up to 80% more in rent which see the NHF shafting the tenant for more in rent and quite coincidentally of course merely occasionally huff and puff over the fact the Tories no longer pay grant or ‘subsidy’ to the landlords.  Quid pro quo collusion again – and again the social tenant is shafted by the social (sic) landlord.

How dare you say that Joe we have a social purpose, blah, blah, blah!

ODFO* … Since when has social purpose meant thieving 6 times more off a tenant on subsistence level benefit than a court of law would award!!

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ODFO? – Oh Do F … Off!

 

 

 

 

 

Severely disabled forced to work by the Tories ICYMI

It’s not what disabled people can’t do, it is what they can has been the mantra of the Conservatives ever since 2010 along another highly superficial mantra of the best route out of poverty is to work.

Yesterday they announced they are piloting both of these together in a number of local authority areas for those with (a) learning difficulties, (b) autism and (c) severe mental health conditions.  This will soon become the forced work policy of work for your disability benefit!

Big Lottery Fund: Lorraine McIntosh and Bob O'Neill Pic: Peter Devlin

The announcement was buried in the DWP Touchbase magazine which can be seen here and I reproduce below what it said

As part of the Personal Support Package for people with disabilities or health conditions, DWP will work closely with a number of local authorities to deliver local supported employment for those with:

  • learning difficulties
  • autism
  • severe mental health conditions

The following local authorities have been selected to work with DWP:

  • Brighton and Hove City Council
  • Cheshire West and Chester Council
  • City of York Council
  • Croydon Council
  • Hertfordshire County Council
  • Kent County Council
  • Shropshire Council
  • Stockport Council
  • Telford and Wrekin Council

The proof of concept will commence later in the year for approximately 18 months.

The concept the DWP is seeking to prove is that those with learning difficulties, autism and severe mental health conditions (my emphasis) can work if they receive support, which then leads to the political posit that they should work and further to the political posit that if they do not work then all such disabled persons including those with SEVERE mental health conditions are malingerers.

And you thought cutting the £29.05 per week from those who are incapacitated and on ESA was bad!!  You thought the work capability assessments were bad when so many have died within weeks even days of being found ‘fit for work!’

I have seen many pilot studies before and they consist of huge amounts of money being thrown at a small group of areas in order to produce very misleading and Panglossian final reports to say these pilots prove something works.  Note that the local councils in this case have also competed to take part in such a charade and of course when, not if, this is then rolled out as national policy such levels of funding and the support it pays for disappears into a black hole!  Yet politicians then recite the mantra to any challenge to the policy that it does not work and these pilot studies PROVE that it works.

This is a significant ramping up of the Tories ideological premise that disabled people cost too much and are swinging the lead and especially so with any form of mental health condition unlike ‘seen’ physical disabilities for instance. This goes way beyond the offensive notion that the discredited work capability assessments (WCA) are somehow fair and right and quite how anyone with SEVERE mental health conditions could ever be fit for work simply beggars belief.

This is extremely offensive and a political sham that reveals the Tories as the nastiest of nasty parties.